The end of the school year includes the dedication of five new SPARK parks

For five local elementary schools, the excitement of the end of the school year coincided perfectly with the start of something else – the dedication of their individual SPARK parks. SPARK parks, community parks anchored by a school playground, are found in neighborhoods all across Houston, and while each and every one of those parks is a cause for celebration, May 2018’s whirlwind opening of so many parks in such a short amount of time was a notable moment even for this 35-year old non-profit.

Harvey Brown Elementary in Channelview ISD was the first in this series of dedications as they officially welcomed their park on May 17.  Dunn Elementary (Aldine ISD) followed on May 29.  Ashford Elementary (Houston ISD) and Woodview Elementary (Spring Branch ISD) shared the dedication day of May 31 before Raul Yzaguirre School for Success wrapped things up with their ribbon-cutting on the first of June.

With these five parks complete, more families will have access to a neighborhood park – modern playground equipment, trails, benches, trees, colorful flowers, and cheerful art installations can be accessed with a stroll down the street.

SPARK anticipates a 2018 tally of some 25 new parks (5 re-SPARKed parks) will be dotting the Houston-area landscape.

The exciting pace and enthusiasm with which these parks are being placed and embraced puts Houston on track toward being a more beautiful, connected place for us all.

Find a SPARK park near you.

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The Raul Yzaguirre Schools for Success SPARK park features a painted bicycle track resembling a city street. Created by Reginald Adams, the track allows children to practice their bike skills and etiquette.

Urban parks are changing the landscape and lifestyles of U.S. cities

The City Parks Alliance video series, “City Parks: America’s New Infrastructure” delves into the value of greenspaces and urban parks across the U.S. The five-part series, highlights parks’ many benefits and the ways cities are reevaluating the way they incorporate parks and greenspace into city planning and development projects and goes on to examine parks as they relate to the economy, resilience, transportation, and, finally, health and social value.

In the fifth in the series, the Foundation’s Guy Hagstette discusses the long-term investment of city parks. Watch the entire series here.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, completes first phase of campus redevelopment project with inauguration of the Glassell School of Art on May 20

Photograph © Richard Barnes

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, today, previewed the first phase of its campus redevelopment: the new Glassell School of Art, by Steven Holl Architects, and Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza, by Deborah Nevins & Associates. The School and Plaza will be inaugurated with a community day on Sunday, May 20. The Museum also announced a significant new fundraising milestone: with nearly 90 percent of the fundraising goal already achieved, an additional $25-million challenge grant has been issued by Nancy and Rich Kinder to complete the $450-million campaign. The entire project is slated for completion in two years. Read more about the campus redevelopment.


Neighborhoods are embracing the benefits of the bayou greenways and life along the bayou

Much of Houston’s natural beauty can be found along the many bayous which meander across the city.  Flanked by trees and wildflowers and home to a range of wildlife, the bayous draw city residents seeking both outdoor adventures and a scenic escape.

With a 2012 voter-approved bond and catalyst funding by the Kinder Foundation, Bayou Greenways 2020, an ambitious effort underway by the Houston Parks Board to create a linked series of greenspaces, parkland and trails along the bayous, has leapt forward. Continue reading “Neighborhoods are embracing the benefits of the bayou greenways and life along the bayou”

SPARK Parks across the city offer outdoor recreation for schools and communities alike

The SPARK Park at Pasadena ISD’s Jessup Elementary School was dedicated in November 2017.

As the mild temperatures of spring in Texas tempt most everyone outside, students in schools within the Pasadena suburbs have even more reason to want to get out and play – nine SPARK parks have been unveiled or are in stages of development just outside classroom doors.

In 2016, the Kinder Foundation and Houston Endowment gifted SPARK, a non-profit which develops parks and greenspaces on school grounds, $5 million to bring parks and playgrounds to neighborhoods across the region. Today, many of these much-anticipated parks are now a reality. Continue reading “SPARK Parks across the city offer outdoor recreation for schools and communities alike”

Empowering students at Yellowstone Academy

Yellowstone Academy is the premier school in Houston’s historic Third Ward. At Yellowstone, students receive an education that cultivates their intellect, nourishes their spirit, and empowers them to capitalize on their potential to create a fulfilling future.

Last summer, thanks in part to a $400,000 gift from the Kinder Foundation, Yellowstone closed out its $3.1 million Bridge Campaign, a fundraising effort to support the board’s comprehensive strategic plan enabling the school to offer its educational model to even more families in the Greater Third Ward community, by:  Continue reading “Empowering students at Yellowstone Academy”

Bayou City Music Series debuts in Spring 2018 at Discovery Green, Emancipation Park, and Buffalo Bayou Park

Bun B kicks off Bayou City Music Series at Discovery Green

Discovery Green, the 12-acre park in the heart of downtown Houston, kicks off its Spring 2018 Season with the Bayou City Music Series. This new concert series honors the great jazz, blues and zydeco musicians of Houston in free concerts taking place in three parks.

  • Acclaimed Houston rapper Bun B headlines the series kickoff at Discovery Green on Thursday, March 1, with opening performances by the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) Jazz Ensemble; Milton Hopkins, B. B. King’s bandleader; and Jewel Brown, former vocalist for Louis Armstrong’s Orchestra. This event takes place on the 10th anniversary of Discovery Green’s first-ever event in 2008, “One for Doc,” a concert honoring HSPVA’s nationally recognized jazz program.
  • On Saturday, April 7, Grammy Award-winning pianist and record producer Robert Glasper returns home for his first performance at the historic Emancipation Park. The HSPVA Jazz Sextet, from Glasper’s alma mater, will open.
  • The series moves to The Water Works in Buffalo Bayou Park on Saturday, May 19. The lineup features the full HSPVA Jazz Band; saxophonist Grady Gaines, who has recorded with Little Richard, Sam Cooke and many others; vocalist Trudy Lynn; and the ThunderSOUL Orchestra, a 14-piece orchestra featuring former students of Conrad Johnson from Kashmere High School, which was the subject of a 2011 documentary film.

This free music series resumes in September with one more event at each park. The Bayou City Music Series is made possible by the Kinder Foundation.

Planting roots: a SPARK Park Desert Initiative update

The SPARK Park at Clear Creek ISD’s Wedgewood Elementary.

In September 2016, the Kinder Foundation and Houston Endowment gifted SPARK, a Houston-based non-profit that develops neighborhood parks on school grounds, with $5 million to increase park equity in greater Houston over the next three years. Specifically, the grant was given to impact neighborhoods in ‘park deserts’ across the region by adding and/or transforming green spaces at 30 schools in 12 independent school districts.

Just over a year later, by the close of 2017, 22 of the 30 schools have been identified, and eight will have been dedicated. Continue reading “Planting roots: a SPARK Park Desert Initiative update”

Strong public-private partnerships key to rebuilding after Harvey

Public-private partnerships like Buffalo Bayou Park provide roadmap for recovery

By: Rich and Nancy Kinder

We all should be proud of our elected officials, community leaders and citizens, who stepped up to the challenge of Harvey’s aftermath. Houston is adept at weathering the storm and quickly launching into the arduous task of cleaning up. We now must prove to ourselves and the world that we are going to recover as an even better place to live, work and play.

This is a pivotal time for our city. We have the opportunity to forge a new quality of life that is even more resilient and underscores who we know we are – a visionary, 21st-century city. Now is the time to plan for an even better Houston.

Let’s think big.

Continue reading “Strong public-private partnerships key to rebuilding after Harvey”

$5.3 Million Raised and Growing Hourly for United Way of Greater Houston Relief Fund to Help Those Devastated by Harvey

From United Way of Greater Houston:

HOUSTON (Aug. 29, 2017) – Even as the flooding and evacuations continue in the Greater Houston area, donations to the United Way of Greater Houston Relief Fund are growing hour by hour from an outpouring of community support.  Kinder Foundation, global energy company Anadarko, Houston Texans and NFL Foundation have each donated $1 million to the United Way of Greater Houston Relief Fund to help those in our community most impacted by Hurricane Harvey’s devastating effects.

To give to the United Way Flood Relief Fund, visit or text UWFLOOD to 41444.


“Rich and I are inspired by the way Houstonians support each other during a disaster.  We have confidence our city will come through this challenge and will be even stronger,” states Nancy Kinder, President, Kinder Foundation.  “We hope our gift will inspire others to join in the relief fund. We also want to acknowledge Mayor Turner, Judge Emmett and our state and federal leaders who have worked so hard to support Houston during this phenomenal weather event.”

Read more